Neonatal Potty Training

It’s the very beginning of my favorite age.  The age when the puppies have just opened their eyes and are starting to toddle around.  I know that within the next week they will start to look for me when they hear my voice, they will start to wag their tails, and they will start some adorably clumsy play behavior.

So, here we are, right on the cusp of the most adorable age.  The puppies can get up on their legs but are still shaky and only walk a few steps before falling over or resorting back to crawling.  However, they are able to relatively easily move in and out of the nest. We are starting to see regularity of urinating on their own, the nest is often damp and the bedding both in and out of the nest has to be changed multiple times a day.  The puppies are likely defecating on their own, but mom is still cleaning that up very quickly so we don’t see too much evidence of that quite yet.

We know we want to teach the puppies to urinate in a particular area immediately.  We would like the puppies to go to their homes at 8 weeks old either potty trained or very close to potty trained.  So that means we need to start right now.  The first step is to place puppy pads just outside the nest on all sides.  This ensures that no matter where the puppies exit the nest, their pee will be in the right place — on a puppy pad.  In the next few days, we will replace the puppy pads with litter pans with artificial turf in them, but we need slightly more mobility and coordination before we do that.

You can see an example of our first-step potty success setup in the photo at the top of this post.  The biggest effort in these few weeks is to keep the nest SPOTLESS.  That means we often change their bedding every hour.  We don’t want any urine or fecal matter in the nest at all.  We want it to be super clean, and the potty pads to have one or two successful urinations on them to help attract the others.  We also spend A LOT of time moving already pottied puppies back into the nest.  Puppies tend to fall asleep wherever they are.  We want to encourage a defined potty space and sleeping space and discourage sleeping in a potty space.  I feel like I spend almost all of my time these days changing bedding and moving puppies!  I think nature knows this is the hardest work and so they make the puppies the very cutest right now.

General updates:

The puppies are all well over 2lbs and I expect some to make it to 3lbs by early next week (maybe this weekend).  They are averaging 1.5-2.5 oz of gain every day.  Posh (the mama) is starting to spend less and less time with the babies.  She mostly goes in to feed them every hour or two and spends the rest of the time nearby, but not with them.  She is sleeping with them a few hours each night but that’s about it.  She is also needed to eat a LOT to keep up with all that nursing.  She’s averaging about 6-8 cups of food a day split into 3 meals.  Her post-birth discharge is finally starting to cease and I am VERY happy.  Washing the bedding on my bed multiple times a day was getting really old.

I have started to let the puppies sleep in the living room with Posh while I sleep in the bedroom with the other dogs.  In theory, this is great, in practice, I always end up having the WORST nightmares and wake up and check on the puppies at least 2-3 times a night.  They have 2 cameras on them at all times so if I wake up and I can check from my bed.  However, if I’ve had a nightmare about it, I always have to go see their little breathing in person before I can go back to sleep.  This is a pretty normal response for my body to stress, and it happens every litter, so while I’m tired, it’s not too surprising or upsetting.

I’m SO EXCITED about the next 2 weeks.  As I’ve said, it’s my very, very favorite.  It also is the most work.  The puppies are able to be worked with and trained individually each day and their little personalities really start to show.  I can’t wait to share it with you all.

OH!!!  And today is the official photoshoot with our amazing professional pet photographer Sherri Griffin with Sherri Griffin Photography.  This litter’s theme?  Valentine’s Day of course!!!  I can’t wait for ya’ll to see them!

Published by abigailwitthauer

Lover of animal behavior, impassioned for social justice, demander of service dog reform. Please bring wine and cheese.

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